The donor of $22 million that will help build a new home for the University of Virginia’s Curry school of education did not attend the school or even the university. He does not plan to name the building after himself. And he has never been an educator.
So when banker Daniel Meyers says his gifts over the past two years—believed to be the second largest in total ever to a teacher-preparation school—are not about him, it makes sense.
“It’s an investment in trying to get a group of people in the trenches for an at-risk population,” explained the co-founder of the Boston-based First Marblehead Corp., which offers services to private education-loan providers.
Mr. Meyers, 41, said he is impressed by the school’s focus on children whose economic or family circumstances present them with challenges.
He has asked that the new building, which will house parts of the education school now scattered around the university’s Charlottesville campus, be named for an 8th grade history teacher and coach who devoted his life to inner-city children in Malden, Mass. Anthony D. Bavaro was a family friend and father figure to Mr. Meyers, whose own father died when the banker was 10. Mr. Bavaro died two years ago at 64.
“I just don’t think you name an entity like an education school after bankers,” Mr. Meyers said. “I think you try to find the best role model [for educators] you possibly can.”
Mr. Meyers, who graduated from Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass., got to know the head of the Curry school more than a decade ago after approaching him for advice on using the securities market to finance student loans. That acquaintance with Dean David W. Breneman, an expert on higher education economics, eventually led to the gifts.